Update: Sadly, Storm passed away in October 2018 after enjoying a happy and fun-filled life with her amazing family. She touched so many lives and is deeply missed.
Tracy and Derek weren’t looking to get a fourth cat, but when their local animal shelter shared a video on Facebook of a tiny kitten with unusual eyes, they both agreed that she had to become a part of their family. “The post said she was dropped off on the steps of an animal shelter, alone, in a cardboard box,” says Tracy.
The couple contacted the shelter and arranged a meet and greet with the kitten who had been named Storm by her caregivers because her unique eyes resembled those of the striking X-men character.
Shortly before Christmas 2017, Tracy and her two sons drove an hour from their home in Hamilton, New Jersey, to the shelter to meet Storm face to face for the first time. “She was so tiny!” remembers Tracy. “We learned when we got there that they were unsure if she could see at all but believed she had some limited sight.”
While they didn’t have any experience caring for a cat with special needs, the couple felt confident that they and their sons would be able to provide Storm with everything she needed to have a happy life, so Tracy and Derek decided to adopt the unusually small kitten. “When we completed the meet and greet, we filled out the paperwork and the rest is history,” says Tracy. “We were in love.”
Not long after they adopted Storm, Tracy and her husband took her to their vet for a thorough examination, and the doctor determined the young cat had most likely been born in mid-September, making her approximately three months old and exceptionally small for her age.
“She was tiny not because she was young, but because her growth had been stunted and she can be classified as a congenital dwarf,” explains Tracy. “Our vet believes that she was the runt of the litter and her mom may have been sick during her pregnancy, leading to Storm’s smaller stature.”
After examining Storm’s eyes the vet referred Tracy and Derek to a veterinary ophthalmologist who was better equipped to determine if the young cat was in pain, as well as if there was any sort of treatment available for her eye condition.
“She has something called corneal endothelial degeneration,” says Tracy. “It is a bluish haze to the cornea that is caused by the loss of corneal cells. The cloudiness you see that makes her eyes appear blue is actually a thin layer of fluid that does not drain properly.”
The veterinary ophthalmologist explained that Storm is able to see but her vision is blurry — almost as if she’s seeing underwater — and while there is no treatment for corneal endothelial degeneration, the condition isn’t painful. After receiving confirmation that Storm had limited vision and wasn’t in pain, Tracy, Derek, and their children worked to help this special kitten adjust to her new life with them and their other cats.
“A challenge we faced in the beginning was the potential for our other cats to reject her and bully her,” says Tracy. “It was a real concern because our fear was that she would not be able to defend herself due to her smaller stature.”
However, Storm promptly laid their fears to rest, proving right away that she was more than capable of standing up for herself. “She learned very quickly how to handle the other cats in our home,” remembers Tracy. “She is tiny but fierce.” It didn’t take long for Storm to settle in with her new family, and she formed an exceptionally strong bond with one of the other cats in her household.
“She has grown close to her oldest cat sister, Penelope, who has taken her under her wing and is very motherly towards her,” says Tracy. “Ironically, Storm actually looks like a mini version of Penelope and we sometimes wonder if she looks to her as if she might be her mother.”
Several months later, Storm has become an integral part of her family, and with the help of her older sisters, this tiny cat — who is nearly a year old and weighs just three pounds — has no trouble navigating around her home. “People believe that dwarfs are unable to climb stairs and jump up as high as other cats,” says Tracy. “Storm runs up and down the stairs just like her older feline sisters. She amazes us with how much she can do.”
Due to her somewhat limited vision, Storm occasionally has trouble with her depth perception, which can make it a bit difficult for her to jump down from higher places. However, Tracy and Derek resolved this issue by placing ramps made out of pillows around the house to make it easier for Storm to climb down off of the couch and other furniture.
While Storm may not be able to see as well as her sisters, that doesn’t stop her from chasing after them, and she loves playing with toys and using her scratching post. Despite being a very active young cat, this adorable girl still makes plenty of time to snuggle with her family.
“Storm loves cuddling, turning into a fuzzy Storm scarf,” says Tracy. “She loves to nuzzle under our chins, in the crook of our necks.” Storm is particularly found of warm, cozy spaces, as she can often be found napping in her cat ball bed or behind the cable box.
Without a doubt, Storm — who was left outside a New Jersey animal shelter, alone in a cardboard box — is loving her new home which is filled with people and animals who are completely devoted to her. “When we first adopted Storm, we had many vet appointments and vet bills that were a bit overwhelming but we wouldn’t change it for anything because through these appointments, we learned how to take care of our precious Storm,” says Tracy. “She has the best care available and a family that adores her.”
Since Storm came into their lives, this tiny kitten — who weighs just three pounds — has had a profound impact on her family, especially Tracy and Derek’s children. “It is a great learning experience for our two sons to learn to care for an animal that has special needs,” says Tracy. “It teaches them compassion and kindness.”
As Storm continues to grow and develop, she’ll undoubtedly face more challenges, but this special cat — who was abandoned when she was just a few weeks old — will have her family by her side to help her overcome any obstacles she encounters.
“We absolutely love all of our cats, but Storm has a special place in our hearts. We can’t help but smile when she waddles into the room with her little bulldog strut,” says Tracy. “Storm has filled our home and our hearts with such joy and as long as she is pain-free and happy, we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Storm on Instagram.v